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Investigating the institutional policies that contribute toward the students’ academic success in a cambodian university

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The purpose of the study is to investigate the institutional policies that contributed to the enhancement of students’ academic success and educational quality in a Cambodian university. In a context of knowledge-based economy, higher education plays an important role to develop the citizen physically, mentally, and spiritually as well as to enhance the economic, social, political and cultural values of the nation. In the aftermath of the civil war in 1998, the Royal Government of Cambodia has strived to restore its education system in order to be integrated into the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Community by 2015 through adopting various strategies and policies to advance educational quality for Cambodia students’ academic success. This paper will investigate and discuss the status of institutional policies that can facilitate in reforming the educational system in Cambodian tertiary education. Astin’s theory (1984, 1993, 1999) is adopted to link the idea of institutional policies and Cambodian student’s academic success; the documents and data of governmental ministries, development partners, and higher education institutions will be employed in the study of such policies.

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Investigating the institutional policies that contribute toward the students’ academic success in a cambodian university

  1. 1. International Journal of Humanities and Social Science Vol. 3 No. 1; January 2013 Investigating the Institutional Policies That Contribute Toward The Students’ Academic Success In A Cambodian University Sam Rany School of Educational Studies Universiti Sains Malaysia 11800, Penang, Malaysia Thongma Souriyavongsa School of Educational Studies Universiti Sains Malaysia 11800, Penang, Malaysia Ahmad Nurulazam Md Zain School of Educational Studies Universiti Sains Malaysia 11800, Penang, Malaysia Hazri Jamil School of Educational Studies Universiti Sains Malaysia 11800, Penang, MalaysiaAbstractThe purpose of the study is to investigate the institutional policies that contributed to the enhancement ofstudents’ academic success and educational quality in a Cambodian university. In a context of knowledge-basedeconomy, higher education plays an important role to develop the citizen physically, mentally, and spiritually aswell as to enhance the economic, social, political and cultural values of the nation. In the aftermath of the civilwar in 1998, the Royal Government of Cambodia has strived to restore its education system in order to beintegrated into the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Community by 2015 through adoptingvarious strategies and policies to advance educational quality for Cambodia students’ academic success. Thispaper will investigate and discuss the status of institutional policies that can facilitate in reforming theeducational system in Cambodian tertiary education. Astin’s theory (1984, 1993, 1999) is adopted to link the ideaof institutional policies and Cambodian student’s academic success; the documents and data of governmentalministries, development partners, and higher education institutions will be employed in the study of such policies.Keywords: Higher education, Institutional policies, Educational quality, Academic success, Support services,Cambodian university1. IntroductionGeographically, Kingdom of Cambodia is located in the southern portion of Indochina Peninsula in SoutheastAsia with a total landmass of 181,035 square kilometers and bordered by Thailand to the northwest, Laos to thenortheast, Vietnam to the east, and the Gulf of Thailand to the southwest. Cambodia is one of the poorest nationsin the world with a population of over 14.8 million people and annual gross domestic product (GDP) of 802 USDper capita. Approximately 55% of population lives in agriculture, and 35% of the population in 2010 lives inpoverty (WB, 2011). In the same vein, a study carried out by Jin (2011) found that low educational quality whichis one of the key factors leading to unemployment and poverty in Cambodia. 113
  2. 2. © Centre for Promoting Ideas, USA www.ijhssnet.comCompared with her neighboring countries in the region, Cambodia ranks 139th of the 187 countries, in the area ofhuman capital, with Singapore at 26th, Brunei at 33th, Malaysia at 61st, Thailand at 103th, Indonesia at 124th,Vietnam at 128th, Laos at 138th, and Myanmar at 149th respectively (UNDP, 2011). In order to increase anumber of human capitals, Cambodia has undertaken numerous reforms to balance the quality and quantity of alleducational levels. The government has established numerous institutions and adopted national strategiesincluding the Accreditation Committee of Cambodia (ACC) in 2003, the National Supreme Council of Education(NSCE) in 2005, the Rectangular Strategy for Growth, Employment, Equity and Efficiency in 2003-2012, theNational Strategic Development Plan Update 2009-2013, and the Education Law (Chealy, 2009). Moreover, theCambodian prime minister has recommended that HEIs should create their educational strategies and policies tostrengthen the quality of teaching, curriculum, and examinations and to assure a balance of quality and quantity inorder to achieve recognition at regional and international levels (Sen, 2011 ). The four top public universities arethe Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP), the Royal University of Law and Economics (RULE), the NationalUniversity of Management (NUM) and the University of Health Science (UHS) were selected in this study. Thispaper discusses on Astin’s theory (1984, 1993, 1999) which describes institutional policies as they link withCambodian students’ academic success in these public universities. Furthermore, these institutional policiesmainly focus on the existing academic supported services and non-academic supported services in Cambodianpublic universities that can help students to achieve their academic success. Therefore, the next section willexamine the recent development of institutional policies within higher education institutions in Cambodia.2. Recent development of Cambodian higher education institutionsDue to the development of higher learning institutions in the global and regional contexts, Cambodia has beenpaying attention on national policies for strengthening her educational system since 1994. First, consultativemeetings between government and development partners were conducted to find out possible recommendations toreform the Cambodian higher education institutions. Remarkably, since the Government had implemented theprivatization policies in 1997, there were two important changes at that time. First, the government has permittedthe private sector to be involved in tertiary education. Second, the government has authorized Public HigherEducational Institutions (HEIs) to enroll non-scholarship students on a tuition fee paying basis to study in theirinstitutions with government scholarship students who were competitively selected by the ministry of education,youth, and sport based on their grade 12 examination results (Chamnan & Ford, 2004). Consequently, the NortonUniversity (NU), the first private university was established to provide educational services with affordabletuition fees together with other public universities in 1997. Now, there are 91 Cambodian higher educationinstitutions, comprised of 34 public and 57 private universities, in 19 provinces and in Phnom Penh, the capital.Consequently, the expansion of higher education institutions is reflected in the growth of the number ofenrollments.According to a report of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, the total annual registration rate hasincreased dramatically more than four times from 57,828 to 246,069 between 2003 and 2012, with approximately91 percent of students paying fees in the public and private HEIs. Especially, in the academic year 2011-2012,there were 1006 doctoral students, 14,127 master students, 207,666 undergraduate students, and 23,123 associatestudents (MoEYS, 2012). However, the rapid growth of HEIs and their enrollment has led to the realization of theneed to confront both the low quality of education, and at the same time, the fact that the large number ofeducated graduates may not be equally matched with market demands (Chealy, 2009). To deal with such matters,the Cambodian parliament and government have adopted a number of national and institutional policies andregulations. This study will highlight the existing national policies, legal frameworks, and institutions forsupporting students’ academic success and education quality in the next section.3. Current status of national policies for Cambodian higher education institutionsThe Royal Government of Cambodia has established educational strategies and policies as well as legalinstruments to assist higher educational institutions in providing their educational services. In fact, institutionaland national policies have associated with academic success and education quality. As stated earlier, twofundamental legal instruments determine the government’s commitment to these educational policies.First, article 65 of the Cambodian constitution stipulates that, “the state shall protect and upgrade a citizen’s rightto quality education at all levels and shall take necessary steps for quality education to reach all citizens.114
  3. 3. International Journal of Humanities and Social Science Vol. 3 No. 1; January 2013The state shall respect physical education and sports for the welfare of all Khmer citizens. In addition, the stateshall establish a comprehensive and standardized educational system through the country that shall guarantee theprinciples of educational freedom and quality to ensure that all citizens have equal opportunity to earn a living(RGC, 1999)”.Second, based on the government strategy in rectangle 4 stated that “the Royal Government will continue tostrengthen its partnerships with the private sector and the national and international community to enhance andimprove the quality of education services, both in vocational and technical training and in higher education,consistent with international standards and the development needs of the nation (Sen, 2004)”. This section willhighlight national policies, legal framework and regulations, institutions that are linked with institutional policiesfor students’ academic success.3. 1 National strategy on education3.1. 1 Educational Strategic Plan 2006-2013 (Education for All)There are two stages of implantation of the Education Strategic Plan from 2006 to 2013. The first stage is theEducation Strategic Plan (ESP) 2006–2009, which includes the main purposes for the success of the plan. In orderto achieve the goals, the government has introduced the policies in this strategic plan including increased accessand equity of enrollment opportunity to realize the Royal Government of Cambodia’s pro-poor policy (MoEYS,2010 ).The second stage is the Education Strategic Plan (ESP) 2009–2013, which is established to ensure the linkagesbetween education policies and strategies within the frameworks of development and action programs. In thisstage, the Ministry of Education continues to provide the highest priority for equitable access to quality education,in particular, to basic education in order to attain goals of the National Education for All (EFA) Plan by 2015.Furthermore, it gives greater chances to expanding early childhood education, non-formal education, technicaland vocational training and opportunities to access secondary education and post-secondary education byestablishing good relationship with development partners, private sectors, non-governmental organizations,communities and parents.3.1.2 The Master plan for research in the education sector 2011-2015The Master Plan for Research in the Education sector which supports the seven strategies of the Policy onResearch Development in the Education Sector was approved by the Ministerial Meeting on March 14, 2011, andis guaranteed in articles 18 and 28 of the Cambodian Education Law. This master plan has been technically andfinancially supported by the World Bank’s Higher Education Quality and Capacity Improvement Project(HEQCIP), and has mainly demonstrated on three significant purposes to increase the number of articlespublished by Cambodian academicians in national and international academic journals (RGC, 2011). The MasterPlan also describes strategies and training programs that will facilitate research development in higher educationand enhance the research capacity of academic staff and institutions.3.2 Legal frameworks and regulationsMany laws and regulations have been adopted by Cambodias parliament and government to support educationalpolicies for facilitating the academic functioning of institutions, to improve tertiary educational quality, and tostrengthen quality assurance. These legal frameworks comprised of the Sub-Decree on Creating andAdministering of Higher and Technical Education Institutions of 1992, the Royal Code on promulgating the Lawon the Establishment of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports in 1996, and the Sub-Decree on Criteria ofUniversity in 2002. Other regulations are passed by the various legislative and executive institutions such as theRoyal Decree on the Accreditation of Higher Education in 2003, the Resolution on the Credit Exchange Systemand the Implementation of Curricula in the Credit System and Credit Transfer in 2004, the Royal Degree onPromulgating the Law on Education in 2007, and the Sub Degree on PhD Training Program in 2010. Besidesproviding legal frameworks, some institutions actively participate in enhancing the educational quality of thecurrent Cambodian educational system. Therefore, this paper will investigate educational institutions that supportthe enhancement of educational quality in Cambodia. 115
  4. 4. © Centre for Promoting Ideas, USA www.ijhssnet.com3.3 Educational institutionsThere are three prominent institutions that actively participate in helping the government to implement thenational educational policies and strategies and to strengthen the educational quality in Cambodian highereducation institutions. These institutions are the Accreditation Committee of Cambodia, the Supreme NationalCouncil of Education, and the Directorate Department of Higher Education.3.3.1 The Accreditation Committee of Cambodia (ACC)The Royal Government of Cambodia has established the Accreditation Committee of Cambodia (ACC), anindependent institution, which supervised by the Council of Ministers. However, it has been functioning as anexternal quality assurance entity that has legitimate powers to evaluate the educational quality of all HEIsthroughout the country (RGC, 2003b).In order to ensure the quality of HEIs, the ACC has used nine minimum quality assurance standards of an HEI.They are including Mission (1), Governing structure (2), Management and planning (3), Academic program (4),Academic staff (5), Student and student services (6), Learning service (7), Physical plants (8), financial planningand management, and (9) Dissemination of information (ACC, 2009).In addition, after receiving a license from the Royal Government of Cambodia to operate its institution, each HEIis subjected to an evaluation of its management system, academic quality, and curricula in order to obtain theaccreditation certificate. Only Cambodian HEIs accredited by the ACC, have the right to award bachelor, masterand Ph.D. degrees in accordance with article 2 of Royal Decree on the Accreditation of Education Quality inHigher Education (RGC, 2003a). In short, this institution has significant roles to facilitate alignment of HEIsperformance to meet the high educational quality standard requirements.3.3.2 The Supreme National Council of Education (SNCE)Presently, the Supreme National Council of Education (SNCE), directly supervised by the Cabinet of the PrimeMinister, is in existence to support the Cambodian Education Law. This institution has three main tasks topromote educational quality, to evaluate work in the areas of education, and to mobilize a range of resources forthe purpose of education (RGC, 2007).This council has the highest authority over the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS) and theAccreditation Committee of Cambodia (ACC). Therefore, this council is a crucial mechanism to achieve the goalof educational quality and students’ academic success.3.3.3 The Directorate Department of Higher Education (DDHE)The Directorate of Higher Education in Cambodia, unlike in other ASEAN countries, is structured under theMinistry of Education, Youth, and Sports (MoEYS). It has two main departments: the Department of HigherEducation and the Department of Scientific Research. Frist, Department of Higher Education has three key rolesto provide licenses and assist HEIs in developing academic curricula and management instruments needed to meetaccreditation standards, and to improve the quality and efficiency of higher education nationwide.Second, the Department of Scientific Research is established to facilitate the educational functioning of HEIs atthe master’s and PhD degree levels, and to improve the quality of learning-teaching and research at postgraduatelevels through updating teaching methodologies and curriculum development, research and innovation, andpublication. In short, this department has a fundamental role to assist the government ministries to implementtheir policies and strategies in order to promote Cambodian tertiary educational quality. The theory of Astin,employed to link institutional policies and academic success, is discussed in the next section.4. Astin’s theory of institutional policies and academic successAstin’s (1984, 1993, 1999) “Theory of Student Involvement” provides a means for theoretical guidelines of theprocess of academic success and persistence of students in their academic environment. Astin’s Input-Environment-Output/Outcome (I-E-O) model is adopted as the theory to illustrate the linkages among threeelements such as the students’ characteristics and background (Input), institutional policies (Environment), andstudents’ academic success (Output).116
  5. 5. International Journal of Humanities and Social Science Vol. 3 No. 1; January 2013As mentioned by this theory, input was referred to personal characteristics of the student at the time beforeenrolling in the institution (Astin, 1993). The highlighted characteristics of input may be family background,marital status, age, gender, race, parental education, housing, academic self-concept, social experiences,achievement expectancies, and past experiences. Environment in this context is defined as institutional policies onacademic resources to facilitate the learning atmosphere of the student including various programs, policies,faculties, peers and educational experiences (Astin, 1993, p. 7). The outcome is identified as the students’resultant characteristics such as knowledge, skills, critical thinking, attitudes, values, beliefs, and behavior afterinvolving in the academic environment and the student’s level of academic success (Astin, 1993, 1999).This study has adopted this model because it focuses on the institutional environment that comprises of academicand non academic support services which are currently provided by Cambodias higher learning institutions.Astin suggested that factors which significantly contribute to students’ persistence demonstrate the extent of theirinvolvement in college, particularly with their friends, administrators, faculty members, and institutionalprograms that are offered to them. He also defines “student involvement" as "the amount of physical andpsychological energy that a student devotes to the academic experience” (Astin, 1984 ). Students, who are highlyinvolved in their academic activities, try their best efforts to study, spend much time on campus, participateactively in student associations or organizations, and interact regularly with their friends, administrators, andfaculty members. In order to facilitate student engagement, institutions must design more effective learningenvironment policies that support student involvement, and provide support services for students to be involvedin. In short, Astin’s theory suggests that academic success is related to various academic and non academicsupport services that are provided in Cambodian Higher Education Institutions.5. Institutional policies for students’ academic success in the campus environmentsAs stated earlier, the Cambodian government has actively taken the lead on institutional policies throughproviding financial support or allocations for academic activities such as research and innovations, nationalpolicies, legal frameworks, and regulations. It also has important roles to facilitate the institutional functions andtheir academic supported service environment. In addition, institutions need to have a high commitment toprovide excellent support services for facilitating students’ academic success and education quality. Institutionalcommitment refers to “the willingness to invest resources and provide the incentives and rewards needed toenhance students’ academic success, p. 99” (Tinto, 2005).In this paper, there are two kinds of institutional policies that can be significant factors to support students’education quality progress such as academic and non- academic supported services in this present context. Hence,academic support services consist of academic foundation studies, foreign languages, library services and otherfacilities. Non-academic services refer to financial support, scholarships, and accommodation.6. Academic support servicesCambodian public higher educational institutions have provided appropriate academic support services inaccording to the national and regional standards including the minimum standards for Cambodian Accreditationof Higher Education Institutions and the ASEAN Network Quality criteria. There are nine minimum standards topromote quality education and academic success. Introduced in the third standard is the academic program, in thefifth standard is student services, and in the sixth standard is learning services (RGC, 2003a). Academic programsare course curricula designed to ensure and enhance the quality of education in the institutions, and they mustcomply with national policies, the institutional mission, social needs, the employment market, and students’needs. Student and student services are defined as academic and non-academic services that contribute to theenhancement of educational quality and the student’s development of knowledge, competence, and professionalskills. Support services include admission services, tuition fees and scholarship services, counselling services,accommodation services, food services, first aid services, security services, and other services. Access to libraries,computer, laboratories, experimental rooms, research stations, the Internet, textbooks, journals, research papers,and so on are considered as learning services as these facilities facilitate students’ learning experiences in order toattain their academic success. In the second criteria about teaching and learning of the ASEAN UniversityNetwork Quality-Assurance, academic support services also include course curriculum, academic staff, studentassessment, learning process, environment, health and safety standards and learning resources (ASEAN, 2004). 117
  6. 6. © Centre for Promoting Ideas, USA www.ijhssnet.comThus, Cambodian public universities are effectively implementing some minimum educational quality standardsto provide excellent academic and non academic support services for Cambodian students to achieve theiracademic development and effectiveness. At the time of writing of this paper, the Cambodian public universitieswere providing academic support services such as academic foundation studies, English language, library servicesand other facilities to support the learning environment of Cambodian students.6.1 Academic foundation studiesTo upgrade and strengthen the general foundation of knowledge of high school students to succeed at the tertiarylevel, the Royal Government of Cambodia, through the Accreditation Committee of Cambodia, has introducedfoundation study programs into Cambodian HEIs in order to promote the education quality of students. Generally,Cambodian HEIs establish their own independent academic foundation departments which are accredited by theAccreditation Committee of Cambodia. These departments offer foundation studies to first year students in theundergraduate program in the academic year 2005-2006 (ACC, 2005). Thereafter, the ACC has accreditedundergraduate and postgraduate curricula. In order to obtain a bachelor’s degree, freshman students mustsuccessfully complete a one-year foundation studies program. After that, they are awarded with a foundationstudy certificate of achievement in all subjects in the foundation study curriculum. With this certificate, studentshave the right to enroll in the second year of the undergraduate program in the same higher education institutionor in another accredited higher education institutions anywhere in the country. Currently, 38 Cambodianuniversities’ academic foundation programs have been fully accredited by the Accreditation Committee ofCambodia (ACC, 2008).According to article 30 of the Royal Degree on the Accreditation of Education Quality in Higher Education,academic foundation curriculums are required to introduce four compulsory disciplines: Arts and Humanities,Mathematics, Natural Science and Computer Science, Social Science, and Foreign Languages respectively (RGC,2003a). The Discipline of Arts and Humanities includes subjects such as Literature, History, Philosophy, FineArt, Musicology, Archaeology, Religious Studies, Khmer Studies, and other courses approved by the ACC. Thediscipline of Mathematics, Natural Science, and Computer Science includes subjects such as Mathematics,Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Geometry, Environmental Studies, Applied Computer, and other courses approvedby the ACC. The discipline of Social Science includes subjects such as Political Science, Public Administration,Sociology, Anthropology, Psychology, Economics, Geography, Demography, and other courses approved by theACC. The Discipline of Foreign Languages includes the languages of English, French, and other languages. Inthis foundation study program, students must complete common courses and orientation courses required by thefoundation department of HEIs. For instance, the Royal University of Phnom Penh, the oldest and mostprestigious university in Cambodia, offers 40 credits or 600 hours for foundation studies. If students want toachieve a bachelor’s degree in Science majoring in Mathematics at the RUPP, they are required to studycompulsory courses in English 1 and 2, Khmer Literature, Khmer Culture and Civilization, General Mathematics,General Chemistry and Physics, Using Library Resources and Demography, Statistics, Computer Applications,General Geography, General Algebra 1 and 2, and General Analysis 1 and 2 (RUPP, 2012f).Similarly, the Royal University of Law and Economics, one of ASEAN Network University members, provides36 credits or 540 hours in its academic foundation curriculum. For example, Law students have to study 12courses including Basic Law, Computer, Culture, Foreign Languages (English, French, and Japanese),Geography, History, Institutional Law, Statistics, Political Science, and Legal French (RULE, 2012a) . However,the Institute of Technology of Cambodia which specializes in engineering provides 70 credits or 3150 hours in atwo-year program of foundation studies. In conclusion, foundation studies are very important to broadenCambodian students’ basic knowledge and to achieve success in their undergraduate program.6.2 Academic English Support ServicesIn a study carried out by Clayton (2006) about English language spread in Cambodia found that English is moreimportant and a first foreign language in Cambodia. Cambodian people preferred to study English because of theirfurther education, communication, and employment. In particular, they want to interact in the internationalworking environment with donor countries, NGOs, IOs, and ASEAN working (Clayton, 2006). Therefore,academic English Support Services are stipulated in standard number six of the ACC’s minimum standards topromote the education quality and students’ academic success.118
  7. 7. International Journal of Humanities and Social Science Vol. 3 No. 1; January 2013It requires that all HEIs offer English training services with highly qualified teachers and modern languagelearning facilities such as audio language labs and English software programs (ACC, 2008).Generally, Cambodian HEIs provide three years or six semesters of English language training to undergraduatestudents. Cambodian public universities are not setting test scores of English proficiency tests like TOEFL orIELTS in their admission requirements. For example, since 1997, the RUPP has established its institutional policyto offer English services through the English Language Support Unit (ELSU). It provides English languagetraining to students in all faculty departments except foreign language departments at the Institute of ForeignLanguages. RUPP’ students are required to complete six semesters of compulsory English courses in order toreceive a degree from the university. Before starting classes in first year, students are required to take an Englishplacement test to evaluate their English proficiency. After that, RUPP provides classes for students in variouslevels depending on their English placement test results, and they have to attend at least six hours of Englishclasses per week. The ELSU of RUPP has been providing basic English courses and elective courses includinggeneral English (from elementary to upper- intermediate levels), English for Employment, Academic Writing,Southeast Asian Studies, Introduction to Research Skills, English Teaching Methodology, and TOEFL TestPreparation (RUPP, 2012d). As a result, after students successfully complete six semesters, they are able to attainat least basic academic research skills in their field of research. Moreover, if students had an upper-intermediatelevel of English proficiency in their first year or second year, they will be able to study specific subjects andadvance concepts for writing their research report or final thesis (RUPP, 2012e). Beside these courses, the ELSUalso provides English services during Summer School to improve English proficiency by offering enrichmentcourses for all RUPP students and students from other universities in Phnom Penh. These summer courses coverthe five macro language skills of Listening, Speaking, Reading, Writing, and Grammar (RUPP, 2012c).In addition, the Royal University of Law and Economics provides seven semesters of compulsory English trainingin its law and economics undergraduate curriculum. These English programs are provided in conjunction with theEnglish Language Institute (USA) based at the Royal University of Law and Economics (RULE, 2012b). Becauseof effective policies of English training services, leading universities including the Royal University of PhnomPenh, The Royal University of Law and Economics, and the National University of Management have beensending their students to study at English speaking universities in Australia, New Zealand, United States, Europe,and some countries in Asia. For example, 480 Cambodian students have received the Australian DevelopmentScholarships (ADS) to pursue their postgraduate studies in Australia since 1994 (AKP, 2012), and more than onehundred students have been awarded Fulbright Scholarships (FS) to do their postgraduate studies at universities inthe United States (FAAC, 2012). In short, Cambodian public universities have provided appropriate academicEnglish services to support students’ learning experiences, academic excellence, and education quality.6.3 Library ServicesLibrary services and resources are considered as one of the minimum standards needed to ensure educationalquality and to facilitate students’ learning process to help them succeed (ACC, 2009). Moreover, library serviceshave a positive impact on students’ academic success including learning, persistence, retention, faculty researchproductivity, and student job success. In particular, universities need new teaching technologies and newelectronic information sources such as databases, up-to-date textbooks, periodicals, journals, advancedmultimedia resources, high-speed Internet access, liquid crystal display projectors (LCD projectors), computerlabs, visual and audio equipment so on to facilitate student learning p. 348 (Heyneman, 2001).Presently, access to Cambodian university library resources is limited because of shortages of governmentalfinancial support. However, university students can access textbooks and printing materials for their academicresearch and learning process. Universities strive to encourage students to use library services effectively. Forexample, RUPP offers a library orientation program, a compulsory course on using library resources to all firstyear students. This course attempts to improve students’ research and information seeking skills in the library,teaching them how to use reference books including encyclopedias, atlases, and dictionaries as well as how tosearch for documents using technologies such as the Internet, email, CD-ROM, Video, and microfiche (RUPP,2012g). The Hun Sen Library of the Royal University of Phnom Penh, the largest library in Cambodia, officiallyopened on January 7, 1997 under the financial support of the Cambodian government and donors from Europeancountries, the United States, and Japan. 119
  8. 8. © Centre for Promoting Ideas, USA www.ijhssnet.comThe library currently has a floor area of 1600 square meters with seating for 200 users and has approximately 55,000 textbooks, of which 62% are in English, 22% in Khmer, 15% in French, with others in Japanese, Vietnamese,Chinese, and Thai. The library provides services such as Internet access, word processing and printing,photocopying services, online public Access Catalogue (OPAC), circulation services (loan and generalcollection), and library orientation workshop services (RUPP, 2012h).In addition, the Royal University of Law and Economics has two separated libraries of the faculties of law andeconomics where each library has 495 square meters of space. There are approximately 22,788 general textbooksand 23,788 legal and economic textbooks. Remarkably, at least 550 students per day (RULE, 2010) access theuniversity’s library. Beside universities’ libraries, most students use the National Library of Cambodia, thebiggest library in the country, for research in their academic activities; this library has approximately 10 3,635textbooks and 23, 000 volumes of books and journals (PPP, 2012) .7. Non Academic support services7.1 Financial services and ScholarshipCurrently, there are 173, 264 undergraduate students (25,045 government scholarship students), 20,719 associatestudents (3079 government scholarship students), and 55, 149 foundation students (7512 government scholarshipstudents) in Cambodian HEIs (MoEYS, 2011). Both scholarship and non- scholarship students face financialdifficulties because they need to spend a lot on living expenses such as food, accommodation, tuition fees, andstudy materials at the universities of the capital. Presently, according to census information in 2010,approximately 80.5% of the Cambodian population lives in rural areas, 55% lives on agriculture, and 35% lives inpoverty (NIS, 2008; WB, 2011). About 80% of provincial and rural students pursue their higher learning inuniversities in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. Therefore, the Royal Government of Cambodia and highereducation institutions annually increase the number of scholarships and establish appropriate policies to setaffordable tuition fees for non-scholarship students. The provisions of scholarships and financial supports arebased on the following criteria: 1. For outstanding or talented students and deserving students who are not able to afford paying fees for their higher education 2. For students who are studying in prioritized fields or specializations for society’s need as determined by the Royal Government of Cambodia, and other scholarships in response to the policies of the country’s leadersThese scholarship awards are based on the proportion of gender, geographic location, and ethnic groups inCambodia (ACC, 2009; RGC, 2003a). For example, the Royal University Phnom Penh annually awards 770scholarships to students (RUPP, 2012a) while the University Health Science awards 741 scholarships (UHS,2012a). The Royal University Law Economics annually provides 390 scholarships included 300 governmentscholarships, 10 outstanding or talent student scholarships, and 50 Prime Minister’s scholarships (RULE, 2010).The tuition fees of current public universities are between USD 250 and USD 1500 per year. It is cheaper whencompared with other universities in the Southeast Asian countries. For instance, the RUPP categorizes its annualtuition fees into three groups: a). USD 250 for the Faculty of Social Science and Humanity and USD 300 for the Faculty of Science and b). USD 450 for the bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and English Education (RUPP, 2012b)The Royal University of Law and Economics sets tuition fees for USD 380 for Law and Economicsundergraduate programs. Otherwise, medical studies at the University of Health Science being the mostprestigious discipline, demand the highest tuition fees in the country, i.e. USD 1400 for Medicine, Pharmacy, andDentistry (UHS, 2012b). In Cambodia, government scholarships only cover tuition fees, so students need to relyon parents, family, and part-time employment for living expenses. According to Virak (2010), the budgetallocation in higher education is not proportionate to the ratio of students sponsored between the Ministry ofEducation and other ministries that provide higher education services. For example, some ministries may sponsor10% of the students, but they receive about 60% of government grants, whereas the Ministry of Educationsponsors 90% of the students, but receiving only 40% of government grants for higher education expenditures.Moreover, the amount of government scholarship in Public HEIs is expanding, but the program-based budget(PB) in higher education institutions is shrinking.120
  9. 9. International Journal of Humanities and Social Science Vol. 3 No. 1; January 2013Beside the governments existing scholarship program, World Bank (WB) and the Cambodian government have afive year project on Higher Education Quality and Capacity Improvement (2010-2015) to provide 1,050 "special-priority" scholarships based on pro-poor targeting and educational criteria in order to increase the retention ofpoor students in higher education (Virak, 2010; WB, 2012 ). This World Bank collaborative scholarship whichpays between USD 60 and USD 90 depending on the location of provincial or capital universities is higher thangovernment scholarship because it covers tuition fees and monthly allowances. In conclusion, financial supportservices and scholarships are very important to facilitate students to succeed in their academic activities and reachexcellence.7.2 AccommodationAccommodation services are spelled out in the Minimum Standard number five for the Accreditation of HigherEducation Institutions regarding student and student services. It states that HEIs have to provide good services totheir students; these services include accommodation, food services, first aid, security, and other necessaryservices. Living environment on campuses are vital factors to retain students particularly first year students incollege and university. Students who live on campus are able to persist into second year when compared tostudents who live off campus. (Jenniefer, 2004; Kenty, 1997). Moreover, students who stay in universityaccommodation or residential halls are more likely to be actively involved in all university experiences andactivities because they have enough times interact with their peers, administrators, and faculty members (Astin,1999).Presently, Cambodian leading public universities in the Phnom Penh do not have their own universityaccommodation, whereas four public provincial universities including the Chea Sim University of Kamchaymear,Svay Rieng University, Mean Chey University, and Battambang University have their own campus housingoffered freely to prioritized female students and other students whose families live far away from universitycampuses. Actually, most students are challenged with problems to find suitable accommodation during theirstudies at universities in Phnom Penh. Some students have to stay with relatives and friends, and others have torent accommodation near their university campus. Fortunately, most male students have a chance to find freeaccommodations in pagodas because their families are so poor that they cannot afford rental rooms.As a result, the Royal Government of Cambodia has constructed a six-storey building as a dormitory near thecampus of the Royal University of Phnom Penh. This accommodation is for students from poor families, remoteprovinces, and for females who study at the universities in Phnom Penh (Saoyuth, 2010). The government willfinance some national budgets to expand university dormitories to meet the need of rapid enrollment rates ofstudents in Phnom Penh. It also has many projects to build colleges and universities in other provinces throughoutthe country in order to reduce the number of students coming to Phnom Penh to continue their education. In short,accommodations are very important to facilitate the education quality in tertiary levels.8. Discussion and recommendationBased on the finding of this study, the Cambodian government and higher educational institutions have strived toestablish numerous policies, strategies, regulations, institutions and academic support services for students’academic success and the education quality. However, there are several negative problems need to be urgentlyreformed that could impact on the institutional policy implementation and the educational quality in CambodiaHEIs. The first problem is the constraints on higher education financing, which is limited by the government’sbudget. The overall education expenditure accounted for only 1.6 percent of Cambodia’ gross domestic productand public higher education expenditure was only 0.05 percent of GDP (WB, 2012).Because of these shortages of annual budgets, Cambodian higher education institutions cannot implement theirinstitutional policies to equip modern and adequate facilities to effectively support the academic and nonacademic services for student academic successes such as libraries, workshop, accommodation, laboratories, andclassrooms (Rany, Zain, & Jamil, 2012b). The second problem is lack of human resources, teaching qualities, andresearch capacity. There are few full time academicians who hold PhD’s degree in Cambodian universitiesbecause of insufficient salaries and incentives; especially, educational experts and policy makers who havequalified experienced and skills to restore Cambodian educational system to meet the requirements of world classuniversities (Rany, Zain, & Jamil, 2012a). 121
  10. 10. © Centre for Promoting Ideas, USA www.ijhssnet.comOn the other hands, the Accreditation Committee of Cambodia has not enough qualified assessors and experts toevaluate the training activities and to assure the education quality of higher education institutions. In addition,Cambodia is still not policy on academic profession ranking so that it is not encouraging people to work inacademic careers. Similarly, most universities have problems with research capacity. For instance, a study of fiveprestigious Cambodian universities had found that only 6 percent of university lecturers hold PhD’s degree andabout 85 percent have never published any academic papers (Chen, 2007).The last problem is academic relevance. The Cambodian government has not yet policy on curriculum and extra-curricular activities to linkage with the labor markets. Presently, the high rates of unemployment among theuniversity graduates are due to their lack of professional skills to respond to the demands of labor markets. Forexample, most of Cambodian higher education institutions are providing most disciplines in business studies,economics, and IT, whereas current Cambodian labor markets are demanding in natural science, engineering,mathematics, agriculture, and health (Noch, 2009). To sum up, the Cambodian government and highereducational institutions have high commitment to establish many policies for promoting the quality of education,but these policy implementations have faced some controversial problems because of financial shortages, timeconstraints, inadequate human resources, and autonomy and academic freedom. Therefore, during 14 years ofpeace and political stability, the government has achieved in numerous national policies and strategies fordeveloping human capital, socio- economy, and alleviation of poverty.Based on the findings of this research, the following recommendations are made to contribute to the institutionalpolicies for students’ academic success and education quality. Higher Education Institutions should pay moreattention to providing adequate academic and non academic supported services for their students includingEnglish services (General English and English for Specific Purposes), library services, internet and computerservices, advisory and counselling services, accommodation services, canteen services, healthcare and securityservices, transportation services, and financial support services. HEIs should provide academic disciplines orprograms which match with students’ competencies, academic background, and resources for their academicsuccess and educational quality. HIEs should organize more socialized events and extra-curricular activities tostrengthen the good relationship between students and faculty members. HEIs should regularly developprofessional competencies of academicians and staffs to assure the quality of knowledge transferring and servicesproviding.To sum up, the discussion suggests that institutional policies on academic and non-academic support services willenable Cambodian public universities to support the actual needs of students and therefore contribute to theiracademic achievement and educational quality in order to integrate its educational system in the ASEANcommunity by 2015.9. ConclusionThe purpose of this paper is to examine the institutional policies that mainly describe about academic and non-academic supported services provided by the Cambodia public universities to assist the students’ actual needs andto promote their academic success and educational quality. Hence, this paper presents a current literature review,educational policies, and critical discussion related to academic and non-academic supported services that areprovided by top public universities.AcknowledgementThe authors would like to thank Professor Dr. Roshada Hashim, Dean of the Institute of Postgraduate Studies andProfessor Dr. Abdul Rashid Mohamed, Dean of School of Educational Studies of the Universiti Sains Malaysia(USM) for their kind support and encouragement. This publication was supported by the USM’s PhD Fellowship.122
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